What does Ivan Joseph, Ryerson’s athletic director, have in common with former track star and Olympian Donovan Bailey and the Toronto Argonauts’ Michael “Pinball” Clemons? They’re all recipients of the African Canadian Achievement Award (ACAA) for Excellence in Sports.
“I don’t think that I am quite at the same level of achievement that those two gentleman (are at), but it’s nice to be thought of in the same way,” Joseph said.
Joseph received the award on this weekend with his family by his side. The awards are hosted by Pride News Magazine, a weekly African Canadian and Caribbean news magazine.
Joseph said the nomination came as a surprise, and at first didn’t believe it. “I’ve got friends that are hooligans and pretend to play jokes, so I thought it was one of them pulling my leg,” he said. “After I found that it was real, I was very pleased and felt honoured.”
The success of the Maple Leaf Gardens’ transformation into the hub of Ryerson’s athletic department was a factor that contributed to Joseph’s selection.
“This building has created a national spotlight on all things related to sports at Ryerson,” said Joseph. “I think (of) the success of our teams, the success of our coaches, but really I think the general reputation of the university as a whole has probably helped raise my profile.”
The award recognizes individuals that are outstanding and excel in their field.
“I think if my teams were winning but every student athlete (was) failing, then I wouldn’t be outstanding in my field,” said Joseph. “All of those attributes contribute to the success of our athletic department, which in turn sheds its light on me.”
Michael Van Cooten, the CEO of the ACAA, said while looking specifically at selecting an awardee for the sports award, the organization attempts to find people who “have excelled (at) playing sports, and who also excel in managerial or administrative positions in the sports arena,” adding that Joseph has done that. Van Cooten said Joseph’s education background gave him more than an edge over the other candidates.
“He has just accomplished so much,” Van Cooten said.
Joseph said he couldn’t take all the credit for the award.
“Anytime you win an award everybody looks at me and says, ‘what a great job’, but if I look back at it, I think of the great mentors I had,” he said. “I also think about the strong team around me. At the end of the day we’re all in this together, and it is an award that many people have a hand in and I’m happy to share it with them.”